Magazine article The New Yorker

Practice!

Magazine article The New Yorker

Practice!

Article excerpt

Kevin Smith, the writer-director of such couch-potatoes-rule films as "Clerks" and "Dogma," and the author of a new book called "Shootin' the Sh*t with Kevin Smith," has a sideline in standup. Not long ago, to pretty much everyone's surprise, he played Carnegie Hall. At first, after being introduced by his nine-year-old daughter, Harley, he ambled around the stage in a black bathrobe that made him resemble a giant bumblebee. He seemed overawed, remarking, "I'm not going to call it Carnegie Hall. We're going to pretend it's Stockton College." But within minutes he was back in form and offering candid, digressive responses to his fans' questions--so candid that, in these pages, it's necessary to relay them in code. We're going to substitute "Wayne Gretzky," the hockey great whom Smith reveres, for the intimate body parts that he frequently mentions. When he discusses those body parts' being involved in certain private activities--when he uses them as a verb--the proxy phrase will be "Walter Gretzky," Wayne's father, and, according to Kevin Smith, one of the great human beings.

The questions from the floor--about such matters as what use Smith would make of time-travelling ninjas, and his preferred partners for a superhero threesome (Wonder Woman and Batman)--invariably prompted Smith to work both Wayne and Walter Gretzky into his answers. Some questions were about the actual Wayne Gretzky, which could be confusing, so we'll skip ahead to Smith's last interlocutor, who said that it had been great watching the reactions of Smith's mother and his wife, who were seated up front, to Smith's profane musings. Smith pointed proudly at his mother and his wife and said, "There's the Wayne Gretzky I came from, and there's the Wayne Gretzky I go to."

Smith's mother blushed, then shot him two reluctant thumbs up. His wife was less appreciative. After the show, she went backstage to the Maestro Suite, where Smith stood streaming sweat in front of a portable fan, and said, "Please don't ever compare my Wayne Gretzky to your mother's again. …

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